Our favorite time of the year is finally here!
It is time to celebrate and dedicate the entire month of February to black history. Follow Sheen Magazine along the way as we’ll share black history facts throughout the entire month. Every day, we will share little-known facts, celebrate those who played made their mark in history, and the historic moments and events.
The Founding of the NAACP
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded on this day in 1909. If you didn’t already know, it is America’s oldest and largest civil rights association.
The group was established in New York City by both white and black activists in response to all the violence that was happening to African Americans around the entire country.
The founding members include Mary White Ovington, Henry Mokowitz, William English Walling, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida Wells-Barnett, Archibald Grimke, and Mary Church Terrell.
The Niagara Movement
The Niagara Movement was a civil rights group that was established in 1905, it was led by W.E.B. Du Boi and included members such as journalists, intellectuals, labor reformers, social workers, and more.
The NAACP promised to fight for equal rights, eliminate racial prejudice, and to “advocate the interest of colored citizens,” this includes voting rights, educational opportunities, employment, and legal justice.
The first president of the NAACP was a white lawyer, Moorfield Storey. W.E.B Du Boid was initially the only black person on the leadership team. He served as the director of publications and research.
The Crisis was created by Du Boi in 1910. It is a leading publication for black writers today and remains in print to this day.
The early years of the NAACP In 1910, Oklahoma passed a constitutional amendment that allowed people whose grandfathers were eligible to vote in 1866 to register without having to pass a literacy test.
The “grandfather clause” allowed illiterate whites to register although blacks’ ancestors were not guaranteed their vote in 1866. Black had to be able to pass the test in order to vote.
The law was challenged by the NAACP in 1915 and they came out on top! The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Guinn v. United States that the grandfather clause was unconstitutional.
Also in that year, the NAACP called for a boycott of Birth of a Nation which was a movie that portrayed the Ku Klux Klan in a positive light. Although the campaign was not successful, it helped raise the group’s public profile.
In 1917, about 10,000 people in New York City took part in the NAACP’s silent march to protest against lynching and violence against blacks. This became one of the first mass demonstrations in America against racial violence.
The NAACP was unable to get a federal anti-lynching law passed but it increased the awareness of the serious issue. By 1919, the NAACP had over 90,000 members in their organization and more than 300 branches!
The Civil Rights era
During the ’50s and ’60s, the group played a major role in the civil rights movement. One of the big victories for the NAACP was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 1954, Brown v. Board of Education. This outlawed segregation in public school! Civil Rights attorney, Thurgood Marshall, also head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) argued the case before the court and was successful!
Marshall founded the LDF in 1940 and won many important civil rights cases that involved voting rights and discriminatory housing practices. In 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the first African American to serve as a Supreme Court justice.
March on Washington
The NAACP helped organize one of the biggest civil rights rallies in United States History titled, March on Washington. The rally playing a helping hand in the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer, which was an initiative created to register Missippians to vote.
During this time, the group was a big influence on the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (prohibiting discrimination based on sex, national original, religion, color, and race) and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the barring racial discrimination in voting.
It was not an easy run in the beginning. Many of the NAACP members faced harassment and violence in the early years of its existence. In 1962, Medgar Evers, the first NAACP field secretary in Mississippi was assassinated right outside of his home by a white supremacist.
The NAACP today
The NAACP today is focused on issues in inequality in jobs, education, health care, and the criminal justice system, and also protecting voting rights. The group has pushed for the removal of Confederate statues and flags on public property.
In 2009, Barack Obama (America’s first black president) spoke at the NAACP’s 100th anniversary celebration. As of 2017, the NAACP has over 2,200 branches and more than half a million members worldwide!
All information obtained on History
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